Exercise STRIKING BAT 21 hit it out of the park

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News Article / November 26, 2021

The month-long Exercise STRIKING BAT 21 recently concluded at United States Marine Corps (USMC) Air Ground Combat Centre Twentynine Palms, California. The Royal Canadian Air Force’s largest tactical aviation training event of the year featured three CH147F Chinook and six CH146 Griffon helicopters, and over 300 RCAF personnel. 

From October 14 to November 14, aircrew, maintenance, and support personnel honed their craft in force-on-force exercises, live ammunition gunnery training, mountain flying, and other activities that tested their skills to ensure readiness when called upon to protect Canadians or Canadian interests.

A key outcome of the exercise was validation of the Canadian Medical Emergency Response Team (CMERT). A Forward Aeromedical Evacuation (Fwd AE) capability that can extract casualties from contested conflict zones, the CMERT integrates experts from health services, force protection, and tactical aviation.

While the CMERT package can be tailored to the mission, it generally features a “flying resuscitation room” in a CH147F Chinook, escorted by up to two CH146 Griffons for protection.

Originally stood up and deployed to Mali in 2018 on Operation PRESENCE as part of UN peacekeeping operations, the CMERT will be an enduring CAF capability now that it has been validated on Ex STRIKING BAT 21.

The exercise also included participation in the week-long “Marine Warfighter Exercise”, in which the RCAF’s Tactical Aviation Battalion teamed up with the US’s 7th Marine Regiment in a force-on-force battle against other US and international armed forces. This portion of the exercise had land and air forces fighting against a thinking, breathing enemy and in particular put tactical aviation combat skills to the test.

“These exercises are crucial to ensure we maintain the skills of our world-class aircrews and ground staff,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Harris, Exercise Director and head of training for 1 Wing. “Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Centre Twentynine Palms served as an outstanding venue as it provided different terrain and challenges compared to our routine training areas in Canada, and we had the additional benefit of training extensively with key allies from the UK, Netherlands and the UAE, as well as the USMC over the last several weeks.”

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